You could be forgiven for not knowing who FKA twigs is. After all, she played her first solo shows in New York City last week at Glasslands in Williamsburg. But while the venue was a small one, both nights were sold out. That's impressive for a performer with only eight recorded songs to her name. While Tahliah Barnett's fan base may be small right now, it seems inevitable that it will grow substantially as word gets out.
Barnett opened the Wednesday set with a whispered rendition of the breathy "Weak Spot" from her debut EP (EP1). It can be easy to forget, when just listening to her recordings, that Barnett has a background as a dancer. But at her live shows, there can be no mistake about it. Barnett can move, and from the opening number every eye in the venue was glued to her.
Set highlights included "Ache" (also from her debut EP) and crowd-pleaser "Papi Pacify" from her second EP (which, with its Arca-produced beats, is an undeniable stunner). The crowd appeared to be a relatively young one, and for the most part, the audience gave Barnett their undivided attention for the altogether too-short set.
To classify Barnett's songs as "suggestive" sort of misses the point: there's a directness in her lyrics that's refreshing and generally less common in female performers than in their male counterparts. There can be no mistaking what she's singing about in songs like "How's That" and "Ache," but her delivery resonates as empowering, if sometimes emotionally distant. This threw the gorgeous "Water Me" into stark relief: after half a set of listening to Barnett sing about the time she doesn't spend alone, there was something beautifully vulnerable about her somber delivery of the song's emotional punchline "I guess I'm stuck with me."
Wednesday night's show was small and lamentably short, but excellent. The good news is that it seems like Barnett is just getting started. If her latest EP (EP2) is any indication, we can expect great things from FKA twigs in the near future.